What is your true nature?

    Last week, I got an opportunity to play golf with my dad and my brother.  It was a golf tournament where we played a select shot scramble format.  That means after each shot, we pick the best ball, and then all four players hit from that spot.  Before I go any further, I’ve got to tell you, I enjoy golf but I am not very good.  To make matters worse, I also don’t play very often.  The last time I played was in early September.  So what I’m trying to tell you is that I am not a golfer.  To more clearly connect to my point at hand, it is not my nature.  My nature, in the language of golf, is that of a hacker.

    Well, as I gathered together with my dad and brother and my dad’s friend, I tried to set proper expectations.  Then I got to the first tee, and hit a beautiful, long drive.  So with the scramble format, we gathered around my ball and all hit from there.  I swung again and knocked it stiff, right up by the pin.  We moved to the next tee box and I did the same thing.  

    At this point, two things happened.  My partners started to expect me to continue this pace.  I, on the other hand, got concerned.  I knew that my true nature would eventually come through.  Oh, I tried to fake it for a time.  I tried to pretend that this was the new me, but down deep, I knew better.  I knew the hacker would come out.  

    Sure enough, the next hole revealed my true nature.  I tried to pull it together for awhile, and did hit some more good shots.  Eventually, though, it was clear for all to see who I really was.  So, I just gave in.  You see, I could not force myself by my own will power to persist in hitting good golf shots.  It was not my will power that would redeem my golf game.  I, in fact, needed a new nature.  I needed to shed my hacker nature and receive the "golfer" nature.  As anyone who knows me would attest, that would require a miracle, not of my own doing.

    Friends, the same is true with the sin nature.  We can fake it for a time.  Sooner or later though, the real us is going to come out.  Those of you who are trying to fake it know how exhausting that is.  Maybe you don't even realize that you are faking it.  Maybe you have come to think that if you can persist in your obedience you will convince God of your worthiness.  

    Please hear this...your obedience is important.  It is a marker of your true nature, but your outward obedience does not define you.  Your heart does.  The Word of God calls us to a life of obedience.  The purpose of that obedience, though, is not to gain favor with God, but rather to glorify the One who has redeemed us from our sinful nature.

    This week, we will come to a strong passage.  It opens in Hebrews 10:26-27 by telling us, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”  This passage calls us to look at our life of obedience to God’s Word, but more importantly, it will call us to look at the status of our heart…to the reality of our true nature.

    Friends, as your prepare your hearts for worship this week, I encourage you to read ahead in the Word.  Read our passage for tomorrow, Hebrews 10:26-39.  In it, see that it is a passage of conviction, as it points us to a life of faithful obedience.  But also see that it is a passage of grace, as it points us in faith to our source of hope…the One who has obeyed for us.